Letter: Probation officer helped on cold case

John Bittrolff inside Riverhead Criminal Court Thursday morning

John Bittrolff inside Riverhead Criminal Court Thursday morning on July 31, 2014, where he was arraigned on an indictment charge in the killing of two women. Prosecutors from the office of District Attorney Thomas Spota described the investigation in court papers last week to get a court-ordered DNA sample from Bittrolff, charged with strangling and bludgeoning Rita Tangredi, 31, of East Patchogue in November 1993, and Colleen McNamee, 20, of Holbrook in January 1994. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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In response to the article "Cold case arrest: DNA links LI man to murders of 2 women, DA says" [News, July 23], I was very disappointed at the lack of acknowledgment of the outstanding work of the Suffolk County probation officer whose work helped lead to a suspect in two killings.

The Probation Department serves an important role in the criminal justice system, one example being the collection of DNA samples from probationers. Senior Probation Officer Elena Mackie demonstrated professionalism and diligence when she collected the required DNA from John Bittrolff's brother, which was the catalyst to possibly solving these two cold cases.

Newsday stories have credited everyone from the state database system, to the county homicide detectives, to the county crime lab and forensic scientists and the district attorney's office, but failed to give deserving recognition to the probation officer who performed the required yet burdensome task of DNA collection that led to the arrest and the potential resolution of this 20-year-old mystery.

Donald T. Grauer, Patchogue

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Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Suffolk County Probation Officers Association.

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